NFL Playoffs 2012: 7 Things We Learned from the Divisional Round

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IJanuary 16, 2012

NFL Playoffs 2012: 7 Things We Learned from the Divisional Round

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    The '12 NFL divisional round of the playoffs taught us many things this year.

    Among them, an NFC East QB is now officially an elite player at his position and the presumed favorite to win the Super Bowl this year was clearly not as good as everyone thought they were.

    Here are seven things that we learned from this year's version of the NFL's divisional playoff round.

Alex Smith and the 49ers Offense Is for Real

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    Arguably the biggest surprise of the weekend was the play of QB Alex Smith and the 49ers offense.

    He dominated the Saints defense, throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning score to TE Vernon Davis with less than a minute left in regulation.

    Smith has officially gone from bust to playoff-winning QB for San Francisco, and he now has a red-hot TE and strong running game to go with him.

    They will need to have another great game this weekend when they face a tough New York Giants defense at home.

Tim Tebow Is Not Good Enough to Beat an Elite Playoff Team on the Road Yet

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    As expected, the Tim Tebow train came to a crashing halt in New England this past weekend.

    In fact, Tebow had one of the worst games of his young NFL career, throwing for just 136 yards on 9-of-26 passing attempts for the contest.

    The Patriots never really gave Tebow and the Broncos' offense a chance in this one, as they pounded them into submission by the score of 45-10.

    Tom Brady and the Pats showed why they were the superior team on this day and that Tebow is not ready to win a playoff game on the road just yet.

The Patriots Are the Team to Beat Right Now

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    After their beating of Denver over the weekend, the New England Patriots are just one game away from returning to the Super Bowl again.

    QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski have been unstoppable so far this season and in the playoffs.

    Plus, their defense has been playing better of late, and they are starting to look like the Pats teams that won three straight Super Bowl titles in the early 2000's.

    There is no question that the Patriots are one of the last teams that anyone wants to face right now.

The Texans Are Not Ready to Be Super Bowl Contenders Yet

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    The Houston Texans had a lot of hope and promise heading into this year's postseason.

    They were fresh off of their first division title in franchise history and first playoff berth as well.

    After a dominating wild-card performance against the Bengals last weekend, they were brought back to reality with a road loss to the Ravens on Sunday.

    Baltimore exposed rookie QB T.J. Yates by forcing him to throw three interceptions and proved that the Texans are not ready to be mentioned in the Super Bowl discussion just yet.

Eli Manning Is Now an Elite NFL Quarterback

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    Throughout his eight-year NFL career, there has been a lot of speculation whether Eli Manning is an elite quarterback in this league.

    After his performance against Green Bay on Sunday, you can officially call him elite.

    He helped the Giants win their second-straight playoff game this year by punishing the Packers defense for 330 passing yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

    Manning is now just two wins away from his second Lombardi trophy as a member of the New York Giants.

The Giants Defense Is a Force to Be Reckoned with This Postseason

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    The Giants shocked the world on Sunday when they went to Lambeau Field and knocked off the No. 1 team in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers.

    Even though Eli Manning and the offense had a big day, it was the play of their defense that helped seal the win.

    New York's defense harassed Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers all night, sacking him four times and intercepting one of his passes as well.

    The 49ers will have their work cut out for them on offense when the Giants travel to San Francisco for the NFC Championship this weekend.

The Packers Were Not as Good as We Thought

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    Going into their divisional round game of the '12 NFL playoffs, the Packers were the best in this current playoff field.

    Unfortunately for Green Bay, it didn't matter in this game as they were blitzed by the Giants and sent home after a shocking one-and-done performance this postseason.

    There were many concerns about the Pack's defense and secondary coming into this game, and it showed in this contest.

    Even though there will be no repeat for the Packers this year, there is always next year, right?